I am a professional digital marketer. There are a lot of us out there helping businesses understand the growing complexities of how to get more exposure for their business. The internet has disrupted so many industries and continues to do so on a day to day business. Every business is a digital business and if your business does not have any initiatives for a digital strategy you are operating at 50% efficiency.
Terrawood Apartments is one of the very rare companies that understands this shift in consumer behavior. For a full disclosure, I am a current resident at Terrawood Apartments and for the past 8 months I have noticed how awesome they are at transforming their business digitally. In this post, I’m going to talk a lot about how they are approaching their strategy online, but I’m also going to talk about how they handle things offline. We do business in a non-line world, meaning that offline and online marketing both influence our perception for a business. Businesses today often operate in silos, meaning they usually only look at offline marketing or they only look at online marketing, but in reality they should be looking at both. If you would like to learn more about non-line marketing watch this video by one of my favorite digital analytics evangelist Avinash Kaushik.
Top Notch Staff
To be fair, I’ve lived in three other apartments before I moved to Terrawood. Usually, when you deal with apartment management you either have a package to pick up, something is broken, or you’re in trouble. This means that most of the time you deal with management is really not to socialize or be best friends with them. Terrawood is different in that it has a completely different vibe. They always have refreshments out for you to help yourself and they even welcome pets to visit the front office. The management at Terrawood never fails to surprise me every time I interact with them.
My favorite person to interact with is Sloan. She is the representative that helped guide me through my lease and made sure that everything was absolutely perfect. One of the things that I remember when I moved in was there was a missing decorative screw on the bathroom sink. I would have never even notice it, but Sloan stressed that it must be taken care of before move in. The screw, mind you, was the size of a pea.
On the day I moved in, I was very busy. I didn’t have a lot of furniture to begin with so I ordered most of my stuff online. One of the things that I ordered was a queen size mattress. I timed the delivery of my bed to arrive exactly on the day of my move in. Literally, as I was signing the papers to my lease my bed was delivered at the front office. None of the maintenance staff was immediately available to help carry my massive queen size bed to my apartment, but it didn’t stop Sloan to take upon the challenge herself. I watched her happily carry a queen size mattress from the front office to my new apartment without a second thought and she did it with genuine generosity. One of the reasons why this place is the best place I’ve ever lived is because of Sloan.
If you stop and think about it, why can’t every business be like Sloan? Your business is as good as the least happiest employee so what are you doing to recruit and retain people like Sloan? She is Terrawood’s best secret weapon in terms of attracting new clients, retaining clients, and most certainly setting an example of how apartment management should be. She pays it forward by taking care of the customer and that in itself is the best marketing strategy you can have. Who is the Sloan of your business?
Incredible Customer Engagement
There is a big disparty today between consumers and businesses in that consumers typically gravitate towards businesses that they know, like, and trust. Consumers today do not want to be shouted at and they do not want to be marketed to. Consumers want businesses to understand their needs and that usually means that businesses need to engage with them.
Terrawood has an incredible sense of community. I’m usually a bit of a recluse and before I lived at these apartments I was actually scared that community meant that weird people was going to be constantly be knocking on my door. Thankfully, it didn’t turn out that way and Terrawood has an excellent vision of how to build community.
Some of the many ways how Terrawood creates a sense of community are catered breakfasts, raffles, food truck evenings, barbecue cookout contests, pet parades, courtyard workouts, and outdoor movie nights. I have never lived in an apartment that had so many enticing and fun events that encourage residents to get to know each other. I have lived in some apartments where they had cookouts maybe once a month, but Terrawood always have something going almost every single week every single month.
One of the ways that Terrawood engages with residents is on their Facebook Fanpage. A lot of businesses do not get how to use Facebook for their business, but Terrawood has it all figured out. They post reminders of events that they are having throughout the month, share coupons and deals supporting nearby businesses, conduct polls to decide which food trucks to come, and run photo contests to win gift certificates. You would think they would stop there, but they also remain extremely relevant by posting local news stories and even making comments on recent popular TV shows to stir conversation.
Keep in mind that the Terrawood Fanpage audience is extremely niche in that its purpose is to cater towards current and prospective residents. The fanpage will most likely never grow to tens of thousands of fans and it isn’t really meant to either. They have the right mindset when it comes to using social media and it is so rare for businesses to understand who they are and apply a social strategy that’s right for them. Too often are businesses focused on numbers that they forget the main objective of doing social media in the first place. The main objective of doing social media is to engage with customers, nothing else matters.
By the way, the image below is what Sloan wrote to tell my girlfriend and I how we won the Facebook photo contest. It is handwritten! How delightful to see in the age of digital.
Extreme Respect for Customers
If you yourself work in any kind of sales or marketing role then you know this saying all to well. People do business with who they know, like, and trust. The problem with the saying is it is often vaguely used and you are often left wondering how you can use that lesson and execute it to your specific situation. Executing the lesson correctly is what sets the good marketers apart from the bad. I find that Terrawood has applied this age old lesson brilliantly in how they manage the complex.
Every apartment will always have a problem with discourteous residents. I think that is just the nature of the business. There is nothing apartment management can do that can reduce the number of discourteous residents to zero. I just don’t think that will ever happen unless you have ridiculous screening processes to select what kind of residents you allow to move into your complex. Furthermore, every apartment has their own set of policies and guidelines to follow and from time to time you may not honestly be up to date with all of it.
Nothing is worse than having apartment management remind you of their policies because you broke their rules. Sometimes management may be overbearing, cast guilt, or threaten to evict you because you have violated their policies. Sometimes the fault is not yours, but sometimes it is, but the point of it is we are all human and we make mistakes. The typical management response when you have violated a policy (big or small), is they usually either pay you a visit or give you a call. Nothing makes a resident hate management faster than management accosting you with a cold call telling you how naughty you’ve been.
I really like the way that Terrawood approaches residents when you have done something wrong. Keep in mind, that I’m your typical good resident. I respect apartment policies the best I can and I live my life as courteous as I can to respect my neighbors. One of the nice things about living at Terrawood is there is doorstep garbage collection. This is one fancier step above curbside collection. Doorstep collection are during the times between 6pm to 8pm. Your trash bin must be back inside your apartment before 9am the following day.
I shamefully admit that sometimes I forget that the trash bin is still outside and forget to bring the container in. If you do it a few times it is no big deal, but if you do it often enough then management can rightfully say something about it, right? Instead of cold calling me, knocking on my door, or discussing the issue face to face in some manner, Terrawood hangs a polite policy reminder on your doorknob. This may seem like a trivial approach, but it had a great effect on me. I can tell you that if it made an impression on me, I’m sure it makes a great impression on others who violate other policies. As you would have guessed, leaving out my trash bin past stated policy times is not a problem and I do it not because I have to, but out of respect for Terrawood for not laying on the guilt.
The lesson here is build a business where you respect your customers and they will in turn respect your business. Customers are more prone to not hate you if you take the passive aggressive approach as opposed to the aggressively passive approach to enforce policies. I understand that policies exist to maintain a certain degree of excellence for a business, but if you do the right thing then your customers will gladly do what you ask them to do.